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Advancing Sustainable Agriculture: Insights from the First Annual Safe-H2O-Farm Project Meeting


Earlier this month, The Cyprus Institute hosted the first annual meeting of the PRIMA Safe-H20-Farm project. The project aims to build sustainable nitrogen fertilization, water management, weed and pest control to reduce water and soil pollution and salinization in the Mediterranean, using olives and tomatoes as representative crops.
The coordinator of the project, Dr Michela Farneselli, of the University of Perugia in Italy, stressed that cooperation is needed to make agricultural production in the Mediterranean region sustainable. She brought together a multi-disciplinary group of agricultural and environmental researchers from Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain and Turkey to develop sustainable agricultural practices for food systems according to “Farm to Fork” strategies. Marco Orlando from the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA Program) in Barcelona, who joined the meeting online, encouraged the meeting participants to disseminate their agricultural solutions to farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural knowledge and innovation system.
During their visit in Cyprus, the researchers exchanged knowledge and experience on the latest technologies for observing and controlling weeds, pests and agro-chemicals in olive and tomato production. The researchers also visited olive farms in Deftera and Astromeritis, where The Cyprus Institute is conducting field research on irrigation scheduling and nutrient management.
The visiting researchers were impressed by the organic farming practices and the focus on olive oil quality at Strakka farm. At the sewage treatment plant in Astromeritis, the manager explained to the researchers how the water is treated and tested before it is supplied for irrigation to the farmers.
The water research team of The Cyprus Institute researchers are sampling and analyzing nitrogen contents in the rootzone and leaves of the olive tree. They are also recording the water content in the soil to understand the water flows. Associate Professor Adriana Bruggeman highlighted the importance of making knowledge of nutrient contents in recycled water understandable for farmers. This will reduce the cost of fertilizer applications for farmers and reduce losses of nitrogen to the environment.
The Safe-H20-Farm project is part of the PRIMA Program. The PRIMA program is supported by Horizon 2020, the European Union's Framework Program for Research and Innovation. The research activities of the Safe-H2O-farm Project are funded by the national research foundations of the cooperating scientists. In Cyprus the research is funded by the Republic of Cyprus through the Cyprus Research and Innovation Foundation.




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